PapaJohn Productions
Newsletter #101 - April 29, 2006

'Free' Online Video Hosts 


There seems to be a big wave of interest in 'free' video hosts... sounding almost too good to be true. Are they?

It's been almost a year since I first signed up for Google video, but it was before they were actually accepting submittals, and I hadn't gotten around to trying it until this week.
There are now many services to pick from... I joined 5 of them for this newsletter, and submitted the same movie and story to each.
Here are links to my two samples. The files are on my website at 1&1... use them as the baseline to compare the free services to.
Besides giving links to the online videos, to use in emails or newsgroup/forum posts, each of the services gives Java and/or HTML code to embed in website pages... so I made a sample page for each of the services to show you how the pages look when presented that way. I used the code for the sample movie, not the story.... it should look the same.
This issue doesn't go into details about subscribing or uploading files... it's limited to showing you the samples, and providing some info about the fine print you'll need to agree to....
... before getting into it further, here's a couple short notes...

Vista Corner... I downloaded (3.1 GB) and installed build #5365 on Tuesday... the High Definition VC-1 saving profile choice that newsletter #94 was about has been replaced by a High Definition one for XBox 360. The picture of the choices on the Setup Movie Maker > Vista Preview > Publish Movie page is up to date...
We've applied for new passports to start our vacation planning. I've turned my blog site over to the subject of Europe 301, our 3rd trip to Europe. Our last one was many years ago, before my first camcorder. We'll be re-doing Switzerland and Italy, and adding Spain and Portugal.... the itinerary is on the blog but changes daily as we think about it.
.... back to the main topic...

Let's take them one at a time. First the individual links to the samples, and then the sample website page. Check them all and see what you think.
Google Video
Give Google at least a few hours to process your uploaded file, before looking for the link to share it with others. WMV files don't align with what it prefers, but my samples worked.
MM2 Sample - 3.5 MB Flash file
PS3 Sample - 2.9 MB Flash file
Web Page Sample
The terms and conditions include your right to charge for viewing and split the proceeds with Google, and Google's non-exclusive, world-wide, royalty-free license to use Your name and logo in connection with Your Authorized Content...

You Must Have the Right to Use All of the Images, Music and Data of Any Sort in Your Authorized Content, and You Must Have the Right to Grant the Licenses.... and You are at least 18 years of age

You can upload as many videos as you like, without any size or length limitations. They prefer that you encode your video files using mpeg-2 or mpeg-4 codecs with mp3 audio... but accepted my two sample wmv files.

While they support other digital formats such as QuickTime, Windows Media, and RealVideo, submitting your files in these formats may significantly delay their being added to Google Video. In some cases, they may not be able to add your video at all. The preferred video specs are:

NTSC (4:3) size and framerate, deinterlaced
Video Codec: MPEG2 or MPEG4 (MPEG4 preferred)
Video Bitrate: at least 260Kbps (750kbps preferred)
Audio Codec: MP3 vbr
Audio Bitrate: at least 70Kbps (128 Kbps preferred)


Downloaded files were smaller than those from Google, and lower quality. They are Flash files, I think, but don't play in my local flash file player when I rename them with typical extensions... so I'm calling them Flash files with a proprietary format.
MM2 Sample - 2.2 MB Flash file (? - no file extension) - lower quality
PS3 Sample - 1.9 MB Flash file (? - no file extension) - lower quality
Web Page Sample
Movies are limited to 100 MB in file size and 10 minutes in duration... there's no limit in the number of movies you can put online, and they'll stay online until you remove them
Here's an interesting CNet article about YouTube and other free-hosting services, and the advertising behind it.


Putfile was the only one of the five services that didn't support embedding a video in your own web page.
The temporary files that are downloaded are the same as the originals... not Flash.... WMV for my samples.
MM2 Sample - 5.4 MB WMV (same as original)
PS3 Sample - 2.1 MB WMV (same as original)... viewer has an 800x600 option, so uploaded Photo Stories of that size should work well....
Web Page Sample 
Direct linking/embedding of videos and flash is forbidden. You must link to the media files with the link that is provided to you, such as Putfile reserves the right to protect it's business and thus users who attempt to bypass the media.php page will have all their videos, flash, and images removed.
A link back to must be placed on any site that where users embed images. Link code is provided at the bottom of users file upload history.

... users give permission for the owners of Putfile to publish any such files through any associated media channel or party. Users upload files to Putfile on condition that they release all rights to the image, and give full permission to Putfile and its associates to use and publish the image in any way they wish. No compensation will be payable for the uploaded file being used in any such way.

This service aligns Google and YouTube in converting the WMV files to Flash, but the quality was lower to start with. A note from VideoEgg said I'd get higher quality if I upgraded to Flash v8, and it seemed to work that way. The files got larger in size but I didn't notice a setup in quality. The VideoEgg viewer was the smallest in the lot, and I didn't see a way to make it larger.
MM2 Sample - 2.0 MB Flash file - lower quality - a note said that upgrading to Flash v8 would provide a higher quality one... OK, did it... >> the file size went up to 4.7 MB
PS3 Sample - 1.7 MB Flash file - lower quality >> 4.8 MB after upgrading to Flash v8
Web Page Sample
While there's no technical limit to the length of video the Publisher can post, long videos are expensive to store and stream. To keep things manageable during this free feature preview, the maximum video length has been set to 5 minutes. If your video is too long, try trimming it down with the Publisher's start and end sliders, or erase part of the video with the eraser tool.
.... At some point in the future we may introduce advertising to support the video content you upload during this preview. Before that happens, we promise that you will have the opportunity to support your content ad-free through a subscription service at VideoEgg.
Can I backup a copy of the video that's created by VideoEgg? In future releases of VideoEgg you'll be able to download your videos and save them locally on your computer.
How long are the videos stored? We currently store all videos indefinitely.
Do I have to have ads? For many VideoEgg partners a free, ad-supported service makes a lot of sense. But we know that ads don't work for everyone. Fortunately, The VideoEgg Solution is available on a straight-forward pay-for-use basis without advertising.
I'm calling this service a 'streaming' one because I haven't been able to find the temporary files.
MM2 Sample - steaming video... no temp file found
PS3 Sample - steaming video... no temp file found 
Web Page Sample
There are cash rewards if your video takes off and becomes highly popular. 
The Site is intended for adults; children under 13 years of age may not create user accounts. No portion of this Site is targeted to children, and any minor should seek consent of his or her legal guardian before using this site.
Limited to personal and non-commercial uses.
You agree not to post or otherwise make available User Materials that include personal or identifying information about another person without that person's explicit consent...
You are 18 years old or an emancipated minor who possess the legal right and ability to enter into and make the representations and warranties contained in these Terms;
You are the owner of the User Materials you submit to the Site and the User Materials are original to you; 
You have the written consent, release, and/or permission of each and every identifiable individual person in the User Materials.

Conclusions and Closing
The five services all worked well. If a conversion was needed, the service took care of it... just upload the saved movie or story and it'll be out there for you and the world to view.
As I was writing this, my local Kalamazoo Gazzette newspaper published an article about video sharing sites... it highlited Google Video and YouTube, and mentioned some others: ClipShack, Grouper, Metacafe, Revver, Sharkle, Streamload, Stickam, TagWorld, Vimeo, and vMix... and there are more.
These services make video distribution painless, easy, free.... what else could be wanted? I think they collectively will be one of the bigger waves in the rising tide of those using digital video.
... and I expect the wave of interest to result in considerable pressure for many to learn and use Movie Maker and Photo Story. I added a new page to the website...  Distributing Movies > Free Host Services... look to it for more info as time goes by.

Have a great week...